Jon Henley at The Guardian:
Nearly a decade before the gilets jaunes rose up in their high-vis vests to shake France and grab global headlines, the French social geographer Christophe Guilluy foresaw their arrival in an essay called Fractures Françaises. In 2014 he developed his theory further in La France périphérique, or Peripheral France, earning himself national fame (Libération, the left-leaning daily, devoted its cover and two full pages to the work), unprecedented sales (13,000 copies in a fortnight) of a geography book and an audience with Elysée palace advisers. His argument is not especially complicated. France, an ostensibly unified country, is in fact divided in two, between globalised, culturally vibrant cities such as Paris, Bordeaux and Lyon – where careers, investment and wealth are concentrated – and all the rest.
This vast, depressed, “peripheral” France of small and medium-sized towns, un-chic suburbs, post-industrial wasteland and the all but forgotten countryside now encompasses, he reckons, roughly 60% of the country’s population.